To avoid a proliferation of anxiety-inducing browser tabs and a terrifying folder of PDFs, it’s important to have an automatic procedure for capturing references to readings which might prove useful.
Once captured, each item in the inbox either:
Importantly, this isn’t a “someday maybe” list. It doesn’t accumulate indefinitely, because then it wouldn’t be a reliable way to Close open loops.
So, when constructing a reading inbox, the important considerations are:
Interestingly, no existing “read later” or reference management system fits these criteria. They’re usually siloed by content type, and none of them encourages lingering items to be removed. See also: Beware automatic import into the reading inbox.
The reading inbox is an important release valve for things I encounter when on my smartphone (see Use phones to collect and triage, not (usually) to read).
Related: Incremental reading
The Inbox is the place to hold the items we either want to or need to pay attention to. A lot of stuff will never reach our inbox; we can shut off the noise outside.
Some things that found their way onto the reading lists turn out to be useless. Toss them. Putting items on the reading list is a tiny commitment only: we commit to pay attention to them later, but we don’t need to hold on to them if they don’t withstand a critical look.